Sundown – Chapter 23 (Part 1)

[14th of September, 2740 AD; Lead Campground, north of Habicht, Ahnlikohn]

 

Night fast approached as Johan and Pariton stumbled onto the broken down gates to the Lead Campground. Off in the distance was the sight of a burning fire near an old building, which Johan could only imagine was the hideout for the Neu Thekohnian Order. One thing was certain, Johan thought to himself: Jelka Arne had to be there. A large rock sat as Johan and Pariton jumped the gates and hid behind it as a member of the NTO passed by.

Pariton peered over the rock and found several more members closer to the old building. “A bit more secure than I thought.”

“Looks like it,” Johan said. “Not that they don’t have a good reason to, which is all the more reason to stay hidden.”

“Agreed.”

Johan looked over the rock again. No one was in the immediate area, which meant that he had to get closer. Leading Parition behind him, Johan crawled into the open area of the campground until the he and Pariton stopped behind one of the fences. The fire by the building began to die down as several more Neu Thekohnians headed inside until none remained on the outside. A few chairs sat on the outside by the dying fire, but Johan and Pariton moved quickly until the were at the entrance to the building.

“That window there,” Johan said. “Is that who I think it is?”

Johan crept towards the window, making sure not to be detected by anyone on the inside, and peered in. His suspicions were confirmed, at least that was what he thought when he saw the long, grey hair. Johan ducked under window and set his back against the wall as he sat on the ground with Pariton joining him.

“You know this person?” Pariton asked.

“Remember the man I told you about?”

Pariton nodded. “But what is he doing here, though? I thought he was opposed to the Neu Thekohnian Order.”

“What made you think that, Pekka?” Johan asked. “This was the secret I was talking about. A secret so scandalous, that it would rock the entire Kingdom of Thekohn to its core, if not the region.”

“Shit, if that’s true, then there’d be no way that the queen doesn’t know about it,” Parition said. “Knowing what we know about the NTO, it can only get worse from here. What should we do?”

“There’s one thing I want to find,” Johan replied. “It’s going to tough going in there, but we’ll have to sneak in somehow. Hold on.”

Johan moved to the edge of the building and looked past it. There was no one around but the entrance to what looked to be a cellar. He lead Pariton to the side of the building and towards the cellar entrance. A fastened lock was the only thing that prevented the two from going in as Johan turned to Pariton.

“Can you break this lock?” Johan asked.

“It would be hard to do without the right tools, Mr. Johan,” Pariton replied as he knelt down and examined the lock. “Perhaps there’s another way?”

“That’s going to be a problem.”

As Johan and Pariton continued to examine the lock to the cellar, the woman from before snuck up from behind. She carried one of the wooden chairs from the front and approached Johan. No time was wasted as she then used the chair and smashed it over Johan’s head, which knocked him to the ground.

“Mr. Johan!”

Pariton sprung to his feet and turned around. He saw the woman try to escape, but he reached out and grabbed her wrist before she could escape. Johan sat up as he rubbed the back of his head. The woman stared Pariton in the eyes as he did the same back to her.

“Wait a minute,” Pariton said, “You’re not a member of the Neu Thekohnian Order, are you?”

“N-No, I thought you two were,” she replied. “I saw the both of you and thought you were the bad guys, so I took one of those chairs out by the fire and tried to deal with you myself, but I guess that didn’t work out because I guess you two aren’t part of the Neu Thekohnian Order, either, so I guess that makes me look like an idiot, doesn’t it?”

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Parition asked. “Do you think it’s okay to bash people over the head and not expect some sort of response?”

“Sorry, sorry, sorry!”

Johan stood up. “You came here because you have business with the Neu Thekohnian Order, don’t you?”

“You could say that,” she answered. “What they’ve done is unforgivable and I want to get my revenge for what they did to my family, so I when I walked by your window and heard what you were talking about, I decided to follow you, which I guess was a good idea because it happened to lead me here and it looks like my hunch was correct because this looks like the hideout for these bad guys and so in my lack of a better judgement I thought you were with them and that’s why I decided to smash you, but I want to say sorry because it was a bad thing to do since you guys aren’t the Neu Thekohnian Order.”

“Excuse me,” Pariton said as he let the woman go. “You talk too fast.”

“That being said, I only have one question,” Johan said. “You mentioned revenge, which means you have a personal connection with these people. How are you going to exact this revenge?”

“I guess I don’t know,” she said. “I have a dagger of my own which I took from my father’s shelf and it was used in the War of the Lands.”

“I see,” Johan replied. “You should know that we’re here because we have business with them, too.”

“But ours is a stealth mission, not revenge,” Pariton said.

“Yet there’s a common ground we both share,” Johan said. “May I ask you your name, miss?”

“I suppose I can trust you,” she said. “The name’s Luna Del Bosque, third oldest of the Del Bosque family. Like I mentioned before, my father fought in the war and was quite a renowned soldier in his own right. I’m here because the Neu Thekohnian Order killed my oldest brother, Lenne.”

“Still, you could have used fewer words,” Pariton replied. “What do you think, Mr. Johan?”

“Luna, I think it would beneficial if we worked together,” Johan said. “I feel like we can find a way to get revenge on these guys without having to resort to violence, so I’d like to know what you think.”

“Well, I wanted to find their leader and kill them, but I guess that wouldn’t be such a good idea,” Luna said. “Also, I’ve never killed anyone, so I guess I’d probably get nervous if I tried to do it.”

“Believe me, killing when you’ve never done it can be pretty messy,” Pariton said. “It’s also… probably not a good idea.”

“Right, I got it,” Luna replied. “You guys are packing, right?”

“Excuse me?” Pariton asked.

“Like, you’d probably have one that’s at least eight inches,” she said. “And you, Mr. Johan, you probably have a long one too. Am I right?”

Johan closed his eyes as he placed his fingers on his forehead. “Just so we’re clear, you are talking about knives, right? Not anything else?”

“What else would I be talking about?” Luna asked. Her jaw dropped as she realized what Johan meant. “Oh my god, I had no idea! I was just talking about knives and you guys were thinking that I was talking about how endowed you two were, but that’s a real stretch to go to think that I was talking about what’s in your pants, so please don’t get the wrong idea because I’m not that kind of girl, even though I would say that Mr. Johan’s pretty attractive if I had to be honest, but just so you know, I’m not a weirdo or anything!”

“I’m not armed,” Johan replied. “That goes against my personal code.”

“I left my weapons at the motel,” Pariton said.

“Oh, well, maybe you’d like to use mine?” Luna asked. “I don’t believe you’ve introduced yourself, guy.”

Pariton turned to Johan. “Are you truly sure that we should be trusting this girl?”

“I can tell that she wants to do good,” Johan said. “Luna, I’d like to get you acquainted with my friend Pekka.”

Luna snickered as she shook Pariton’s hand. “Nice meeting you, Pekka.”

Pariton’s expression remained unchanged. “What’s so funny?”

“It just made me think about what your name sounds similar to,” she replied. “You know: what we were talking about earlier?”

“I’m afraid to even ask what you mean by that,” Pariton said.

Johan patted Pariton on the back. “Better not to think about it,” he said. “So, Luna, if it’s okay with you, I’d like to ask you about your dream. Although, I think it’s best we talk later, since we do have this whole matter to settle.”

“We really did get off track,” Pariton said. “That lock still remains fastened to the cellar door.”

“Excuse me, but I think I can help,” Luna said as she stretched her legs. “Just stand back, guys, because I’m going to bust that thing in!”

Johan did not move. “As much as I adore your enthusiasm, I can’t let you do that,” he said. “Did you already forget that this is a stealth mission?”

“Oh, sorry,” she replied.

“Actually, there might be a way in yet,” Johan said. “Follow me.”

Johan snuck back to the front of the building and towards the front door. Pariton and Luna trailed behind him as he reached for the doorknob and turned it to find that there was no lock. With a deep exhale, Johan creaked the door open and found a member of the Neu Thekohnian Order sleeping on the chair nearby.

“You two stay here,” Johan said.

“What should we do?” Pariton asked.

“If it comes to the worst, then don’t hesitate to barge in,” he replied. “Keep an eye out for any other members that might still be outside.”

“Got it,” Pariton said.

“And Luna, I do want to talk to you later, that much I assure you,” Johan said. “No matter what, we’re getting out of here alive.”

“I understand, boss,” she said. “I hope you don’t mind me calling you that, because I thought it sounded really cool in my head, like we’re all a group of good guys and we’re looking to you to be the leader and all that, so…”

Johan went inside and rushed to the edge of the wall and hid himself. He looked onward as he found no one in the hallway, so he decided to sneak further into the hall. As he went further inside, Johan could hear a faint noise coming from his right as he could only suspect that the meeting was already taking place. His other suspicion proven to be true, Johan had to find the document that Ahga possessed if he wanted to have a chance to stop him.

“A split end, huh,” Johan said.

Two paths stood at his left and right. Johan peeked past the corner to the left and saw no one, so he hurried down that path before anyone had the chance to spot him. At the end of the hall were two doors, one in front of Johan and one to his left. He tried opening the door to his left first but found it locked, so he decided to try the other door instead and found success as it opened for him. With nothing else standing between Johan and the room on the other side, he went inside.

“Okay, so let’s see what we have here…”

Johan saw two desks on both sides of the room, both with papers scattered all over their surfaces. He checked desk closest to him first and sped through as many papers as he could.

“A lot of these papers could prove to be useful,” he said. “Wait, what’s this?”

He gripped one paper in his hand. It was a letter addressed to the leader of the Neu Thekohnian Order, but there was no return address. Johan read through it, making sure to take in every word written on the paper.

To the leader of the NTO, Jelka Arne: by the time you read this, I will have set off for Iiayikohn. Nobody will be able to suspect that someone like me would ever even attempt to assassinate the prime minister, not even  all of the Iiayikohnian government. I hope this will be able to satisfy you, so long as you hold up your end of the bargain. Please let this be the last thing that you ask of me.

Signed, A.A.

“Quite astounding, isn’t it, my friend?”

Johan heard the voice from behind him, the familiar and welcoming voice that belonged to Lauren Ahga. Ahga had just entered the room as Johan put the letter back down on the desk and turned around. The two were now face to face as Ahga approached Johan.

“Why did you blackmail Prince Ahnle?” Johan asked.

“Oh, you should ask Jelka that,” Ahga replied. “What I think you should be doing now is trying to tell me why I should let you leave here alive.”

“Don’t try to skirt the question, Sir Lauren,” Johan said. “You were the one who coerced the prince into assassination. Were you too afraid to do it yourself?”

Ahga adjusted his glasses. “You must not value your life if you’re asking meaningless questions like that…”

“I want you to answer me,” Johan replied.

“I’ve already told you I hate using violence as a means to an end,” Ahga said, “So I just decided to find the right kind of idiot that would do it for me. Turns out that that womanizer was the perfect choice.”

“He was arrested not too long after, you know,” Johan said.

“Ah yes, that is true, but everything worked out just as planned,” Ahga replied. “Besides, it’s not like Prince Ahnle is going to spend a single second in prison, anyway.”

“How so?”

“If he doesn’t get killed by some lunatic, he’ll probably go off into hiding,” Ahga answered. “Perhaps he’ll go as far as the islands, away from our society while the rest of the royal family will simply just go away as well.”

“You act as if you know that that’ll happen,” Johan replied.

“That’s because it’s precisely what will happen,” Ahga said. “Do you believe that Dezine will want to put up with the international headache? I know the man well and he’d rather pass off that burden to someone else, that someone being Chancellor Harring.”

Ahga reached down to his waist and to his holster. He pulled out his gun and pointed it at Johan.

“Either way, I’d have gotten the result I’d want,” he said, “Either the prince gets arrested or that woman would have taken the fall instead.”

“You hate using violence, though.”

“Do you think I’m letting you out of here alive?” Ahga asked. “I’ve told you all you needed to know. Besides, I may abhor violent methods, but for you, it’s a special cause.”

“I didn’t expect that I’d be getting such preferential treatment, Sir Lauren,” Johan said. “Before you kill me, though, I have one question.”

“Go ahead, shoot,” Ahga replied. “Pardon the pun, of course.”

“What do you expect to gain from this?” Johan asked. “Working with the Neu Thekohnian Order… They’re said to be worse than the True Thekohnians, yet the advisor to the Queen of Thekohn works with them. What’s your goal here?”

“Why does that matter to you?” Ahga asked. “You’ll be dead anyway, just like your two comrades outside.”

Johan smirked. “What if I told you I could help you?”

“You, help me? Are you trying to make me laugh?”

“I’m being completely serious,” Johan said. “I’d like to think that there’s a common ground we can reach.”

Ahga lowered his gun and inserted it back into the holster. “I’m listening,” he said, “Though I do feel as if you’re only doing this out of desperation.”

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t,” Johan replied. “However, I feel as if I don’t have much of a choice. If you don’t get me, I’m sure the Ameci military will.”

“What do you mean?” Ahga asked. “Never mind, I’d rather not hear about it. Just tell me what I need to hear.”

“Of course,” Johan said. “I’m glad that you decided to come to your sense. Anyway, where should I start?”

 

To be continued…

 

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